Nav returned today with the release of his third studio album, Good Intentions, and he’s more confident than ever.

“After [Bad Habits] came out and went No. 1, I returned to the studio more confident, relaxed, not worrying about what people think,” he tells Complex. “It let me be more honest this time on this record.”

He’s seen all the jokes and all the memes that people make at his expense online—he even made a whole song inspired by online comments with “Brown Boy”—but he believes in himself more than he ever has. So, how did this translate on the album? After a few initial spins, we put together a list of our first reactions. Here are 7 takeaways from Nav’s new album, Good Intentions.

Nav always manages to attract huge features

Nav’s first major credit as a producer was on Drake’s “Back to Back.” The young Toronto artist, born Navraj Singh Goraya, found himself thrust into the middle of Drake’s beef with Meek Mill, immediately punching above his weight class and refusing to return to a lighter weight ever again. His first tape, Nav, included a feature from the Weeknd and production for Metro Boomin. Nav has always attracted huge artists to his songs. Perfect Timing, which was produced entirely by Metro, features Lil Uzi Vert, Offset, Playboi Carti, 21 Savage, and Gucci Mane. It may be that all of these artists love working with Nav and respect his style, but there are plenty of artists making similar moves as Nav, and plenty who do so with wider audiences. So, how does Nav do it? His new LP features Thugger, Future, Travis Scott, Uzi, Pop Smoke, Gunna, Don Toliver, and Lil Durk. It’s an all-star game turned into a tracklist. Nav’s ability to attract this kind of talent is a combination of a big budget, an affable personality, and some unexplainable mysticism. Whether you like Nav’s music or not, his ability to attract top-level talent on every release is a feat in and of itself. —Will Schube

His flow is chameleonic

How would you describe Nav’s style? It’s pop-rap, post-trap, Auto-Tune rap... All of the raps populating the airwaves are flows Nav can pull off. It’s one of his greatest strengths. His style is aggressively anti-style. On “Status,” Nav mimics Lil Uzi Vert’s flow; on “No Debate,” he sings like Thug. On “No Ice,” he interpolates Lil Durk’s post-drill flow. It’s both impressive and calls for a bit of alarm. Nav doesn’t do any one thing with particular brilliance, but he understands what hits and who’s popping off. His star has risen because he brings the radio to him and then regurgitates it as his own style. It’s brilliant, a little bit cynical, and exactly what you’d expect from a rapper who has openly yearned for stardom. —Will Schube

Nav pulls something new out of Pop Smoke (again)

“Run It Up” is one of Pop Smoke’s first posthumous verses to be released since his death in February 2020. It’s a braggadocious record about the duo’s rise to fame, which finds Pop experimenting with different flows. On the second verse, the late rapper exhibits a more melodic flow in comparison to the aggressive delivery we’re used to hearing on solo songs like “Welcome to the Party” and “Invincible.” He also briefly speeds his flow up, rapping, “Crib got five stories, yeah, I live like a king/Thirty-five carats the ring ‘cause / Diamond cuts on my necklace,” before slowing it back down. Of course, “Run It Up” isn’t the first time Pop Smoke changed things up. He previously showed a different side on tracks like “Element” or “Like Me,” his romantic-leaning collaboration with PnB Rock from Meet the Woo 2. In a recent interview with Complex, Nav spoke on how he was able to showcase some of Pop’s versatility. “We did one [drill song]... But then he wanted to make something more in my sound. That’s how we got the song that’s on my album... I want fans to see the other side of Pop. I think he was more versatile than people think.” While the undeniable energy on Pop Smoke’s first drill hits are what made him a star, records like “Run It Up” show he had so much more to offer beyond the signature sound. —Jessica McKinney

Nav is obsessed with his story

Nav only talks about a few things. There’s money, jewelry, drugs, women, and his childhood. More often than not, he asserts that being overlooked as a youngin’ is what led to all of these riches. It reminds me a bit of Michael Jordan in a way—able to find a grudge in any perceived slight and take it past its logical conclusion. Now, obviously Nav isn’t anywhere close to MJ in any aspect, but his ability to turn being overlooked into an entire career is reminiscent of Air Jordan. “It’s hard to make it out where I came up/Invest in myself, made everything back/I just left Dior and I spent ten racks/Took a hundred thousand out, playing catch,” he raps on the Future-assisted “My Business.” On “Codeine,” he raps, “Where I’m from, they shootin’ shit up odee/Probably ’cause we ain't got no OGs/Don't start judgin' if you don't know me/Had a bad relationship with codeine.” You get the sense that Nav got into lean because his favorite rappers were doing it growing up, fitting nicely into the mythos that Nav would do literally anything to rap professionally. —Will Schube

He’s very proud of his come-up

The main thread that holds Good Intentions together is that Nav is a brown boy who has overcome some obstacles and is now getting money and bagging women. He makes no effort to hide this, and often throws in lyrics reminding listeners of his background. “Brown boy got the game on lock/Brown boy fuckin’ all these thots/Run up we gon’ pop, pop, pop/Brown boy ain’t never get got,” he raps on “Status.” Later, on “Recap,” he spits, “Fuckin’ with a brown boy like me, girl, gotta stay on toes.” His single, “Brown Boy,” is less superficial. On the record, NAV reflects on his position in the game, the negative perception of him, and the struggles he still has to overcome. “He the one I hate the most, brown boy/Makes me sick when you brag and boast, brown boy… I don’t know how he sell out shows, brown boy,” he raps. —Jessica McKinney

The Weeknd doesn’t leave a mark

Here’s a fun little exercise: Try to find one instance throughout the entire album in which Abel Tesfaye makes his presence as an executive producer felt. If this album wasn’t relentlessly promoted as a Weeknd-assisted affair, there’d be nothing to distinguish his fingerprints from Nav’s. Perhaps it’s an indictment of Nav, that his style is completely dictated by Abel. But I think Nav actually has some personality on this record. Abel’s vision is minimal, if it’s there at all. Perhaps it’s to help accrue streams or spread the word, but a guestlist with Future, Thugger, Travis Scott, and Uzi doesn’t accomplish this? It’s a weird move, and one that raises more questions than it answers. After a spin through the entire LP, the Weeknd’s silence is deafening. —Will Schube

“Brown Boy” is the closest look we’ve had at Nav, the person

It’s easy to pick on Nav because his personality is so entrenched in the cliches of rap. His world doesn’t exist outside of exorbitant drug use, fast cars, tons of jewelry, and a different woman every night. Nav’s success is staggering in part because there’s rarely anything to cling to outside of the music. Listening to a Nav album doesn’t reveal anything about Nav the person. He rectifies that on “Brown Boy,” his most personal and honest song to date. He recounts all the ways he’s been slighted and uses it to bolster his case as a rap fairytale. “He the one I hate the most, brown boy/Makes me sick when you brag and boast, brown boy/He could turn my wifey to a ho, brown boy/I don't know how he sell out shows, brown boy,” he raps. The way Nav switches perspectives is quite skillful and a nice trick, surrounding himself with the hate speech levied his way before dismantling it and standing atop his bags of money as a rap superstar. “Brown Boy” makes it easy to root for Nav. He’s aware of a world outside of himself, which he rarely acknowledges on his more unoriginal tracks. On “Brown Boy,” Nav is the protagonist. If he viewed himself as such more often, who would he have left to prove wrong? —Will Schube

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